A new development company focused on affordable and mixed-income housing has been formed in Pittsburgh.
Catalyst Communities, led by longtime local industry leader Michael Polite, will pursue new construction developments as well as adaptive-reuse and preservation projects to provide high-quality and affordable homes. The firm’s major investor is Beacon Communities, a Boston-based development company and one of the top owners of affordable housing in the nation.
“Starting the new company is responding to an opportunity to draw on resources from a partner that accompanies our values. When you partner, you can do even more good things,” says Polite. “Beacon Communities, which is our investor, has the ability to provide access to capital so we can do things on a wider footprint.”
He adds that Beacon’s model of delivering social services also will help the new firm be more effective. “As change agents, creating housing is one thing, but lifting up a neighborhood requires more than just housing. Beacon gives us an opportunity to do that.”
Polite’s relationship with Beacon dates back to 1996 when the company hired him away from the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh. For the past 12 years, Polite has been CEO for Ralph A. Falbo, where he served as general partner or development consultant in transactions that produced over 900 units of affordable, mixed-use, and market-rate housing in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio.
He is joined by vice president Tamara Dudukovich, who has over 25 years of affordable housing development and finance expertise. Most recently, she facilitated investments in low-income housing tax credit developments in western Pennsylvania at BNY Mellon for five years. Before that, she directed real estate development activities in Akron, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and throughout the mid-Atlantic for The Community Builders.
Catalyst Communities also is focused on serving the workers the region depends on.
“Although we show up on many lists as one of the most affordable cities in terms of price point for buying or renting homes, we have an estimated shortage of about 20,000 units for people who are at the 50% of area median income or below,” says Dudukovich.
Polite says the firm already has several developments in the pipeline, including an adaptive-reuse of a former nursing home in Pittsburgh and the recapitalization of 272 apartments in Columbus, Ohio, and will be working to get those to closing in the next couple of months.